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Take your Bibles and open with me this week to Hosea chapter 2. We looked at Hosea’s family last week in chapter 1 examining the fact that he was told to marry Gomer and that she would become unfaithful. He was told to continue to love her.

Last week we learned that the names of their children were significant in God’s plan for Israel and His people. Their firstborn son named Jezreel, or “God will scatter.” And then Gomer had two children by other men in her unfaithfulness. A daughter named Lo-Ruhamah, meaning “No mercy,” and a son named Lo-Ammi, meaning “Not My people.”

Remember that Hosea and Gomer are playing out for us a living parable, a visible demonstration of the bondage of sin, warnings about the danger of coming judgment, and the depths of God’s covenantal love for His people as He has made provision through His Son to ransom, or redeem us.

Our first point then we read in Hosea 2:2-5 and we see what is driving Gomer in her pursuits of sin and unfaithfulness.

“2 Bricourt-gavelng charges against your mother, bring charges; For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband! Let her put away her harlotries from her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 Lest I strip her naked And expose her, as in the day she was born, And make her like a wilderness, And set her like a dry land, And slay her with thirst. 4 “I will not have mercy on her children, For they are the children of harlotry. 5 For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, My oil and my drink.’”

 We see here at first a challenge that is made, and this is a picture that is spelled out for us in the terms of a court proceeding. This is specifically how a charge or argument would be brought up in court at a trial for adultery. The unfaithful spouse would be taken into custody and brought before the judge where witnesses would come and testify to the crime and if it could be proved that the person charged had committed adultery then a sentence would be handed down with punishment. The penalty for adultery given in Leviticus 20:10 was “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.”

In this account then, written by Hosea, we see the court setting where the Lord says, “Bring charges against your mother, bring charges.” The appeal here before the judge was for the children born from this unfaithfulness to be the witnesses against their mother, as they were also the evidence, or the proof, of what she had done. She had left Hosea, she was away from him, and yet came back pregnant and gave birth to these children.

In this court session the children as called to give testimony and serve as the evidence against Gomer, and then the Lord tells the people that there is going to be a consequence for their unfaithfulness. He is always pointing out that the players here, so to speak, represent Israel.

When God says, “2 Bring charges against your mother, bring charges; For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!” Now if we read that in English without any further study it sounds at first like God has divorced His people as a result of their unfaithfulness. It sounds as though Hosea and Gomer are no longer married. But there is a specific phrase used here that we have to be careful in our translating and applying – and this is important, because if you were brought to trial in a Jewish court on charges of adultery, you were not brought to court for divorce. You were brought for a sentence in a capital crime and if found guilty you were going to be put to death by stoning. So this was not a trial for divorce; it was a death penalty case.

Remember the account of the woman caught by the Pharisees and brought before Jesus. They asked Jesus what they should do with her and whether she should, according to the Law, be stoned. Of course this was all a set up in that instance. She was guilty and if Jesus upheld Jewish law then He would have broken Roman law, but even then, He was not a judge and this was not a trial through the courts. This was mob rule as the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus in a place where He would be discredited with whatever He did in response to the circumstances. Of course His reply, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7), proved that while they were trying to catch Him, He had caught them, exposing the truth that “all have sinned” and also that they did not have authority to serve as judge, jury, and executioner in this mock trial they put on in the streets. He then opened the path to grace and forgiveness for the woman.

In this court session then with Gomer where it says “she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!” this is not a descriptive term to describe that their marriage has been dissolved by divorce. Instead the phrase means simply that Gomer was not acting like Hosea’s wife. She was assaulting the marriage by acting as if it did not exist. She was living as if there was no covenant between her and Hosea. This then is the charge. This is the statement of the crime – unfaithfulness to her marriage covenant.

Interestingly then when the charges are brought, he does not ask for the death penalty! Instead God through Hosea pleads for her to “put away her harlotries from her sight.” It is a cry for repentance and a return to faithfulness in the covenantal duties of marriage. Hosea has just brought something to the court proceeding that was not there under the Old Covenant Law. Under the Law, if you were charged and found guilty, you died. But Hosea, from the very start here, introduces grace to the proceedings. Very much as Jesus did with the woman we just mentioned in John 8:10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

This grace, this redemption, this ransom, it was what the Law pointed to all along. The penalty for sin, “the wages of sin is death”, the threat of judgment points to the need for salvation. The Law serves to point us to the Gospel, just as we are told in Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

With the declaration of the need for Gomer, and thereby the nation of Israel, to put away their unfaithfulness, there is also a threat of consequences for continued disobedience to the requirements and duties of the covenant. If sin is not put away then it will be exposed for all to see. Not only would she be exposed, but she would be dry and thirsty. Her basic needs for survival were going to be withheld. She was going to suffer exposure and shame. It says, “Lest I strip her naked and expose her, as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.” This of course a specific warning about the judgment coming by the hands of the Assyrians.

If the people stay in their present course things will go from bad to worse. In Isaiah, as the prophet describes the judgment coming for sin, he writes, “Therefore my people have gone into captivity, Because they have no knowledge; Their honorable men are famished, And their multitude dried up with thirst.” (Isaiah 5:13). And we also read about the contrast between the faithful and the unfaithful, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, My servants shall eat, But you shall be hungry; Behold, My servants shall drink, But you shall be thirsty; Behold, My servants shall rejoice, But you shall be ashamed.” (Isaiah 65:13). How precious is it then, knowing the drought that sin produces, to hear from God, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:3), and “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat.” (Isaiah 55:1).

We must also note than in this day, one who had gone into a life of harlotry was paid with food, drink, clothing, and other provisions. Not money, but necessities. And God warns that if the nation continues in spiritual adultery then their needs are not going to be met.

Gomer expects from this life of unfaithfulness to be able to meet her needs. We read in verses 4-5, “I will not have mercy on her children, For they are the children of harlotry (remember this verse is a play on their names, “No mercy”, and “Not My people”) “I will not have mercy on her children, For they are the children of harlotry. 5 For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, My oil and my drink.’”

Here Hosea has made the point before the court that Gomer has run into this life of unfaithfulness in pursuit of two things, both driven by her lust. She has become a harlot to chase pleasure and to consume provisions. She is chasing men she believes can please her and provide for her. We will learn as we continue that in fact he was the one providing for her all along! Hosea was able (and willing) to provide everything that she needed, but she was not content and went looking elsewhere to fulfill her desires. She was using people for what she could get, for what she wanted, for her own selfish fleshly lusts.

As this becomes her life, her pursuit, we see in Hosea a picture of God’s love for us as we pursue sin and lust and wickedness.

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